This is a story about accepting yourself.

During the worst period of my life, I started searching for people with the same problem as me. I was searching for hope, for solutions, for strength; for all of the things I was lacking. It helped me a lot. So, the only thing I can give in return is the story of my experience; hoping that it will soothe another person's soul.

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My story is about acne. All my life I've had a clean face. My teenage years also passed without any problems with acne, both on my face and body. My skin is dry, fair and I'm always blushing in pinkish/reddish tone - which I hate, so during my high-school I was usually wearing foundation. My problems started a few months before my 23rd birthday, when my face started gradually getting acne on cheeks, below the cheekbones.

At first I thought it was just a bad PMS. It was the start of Spring, so when my period ended I thought maybe I became allergic to the sun. Some weeks later, I stopped eating dairy products because maybe that was the problem.

After a few months it got even worse. I was in denial about my problem with acne, I simply couldn't accept that it was happening to me. After I survived all those critical teenage years without acne, I didn't want to accept that now I have a serious problem as a grown-up.

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You see, when we were teenagers, it was normal for everyone to have pimples - yes, we were all making fun of each other, but it was puberty doing its job. There was no judging. When you're an adult with acne, it is not so common, and when you go out and meet other adults - they notice and they ask questions.

People started questioning me about my face: What is happening? Why is it red and swollen? I hated it, I hated the questions and the fact that everybody suddenly cares about the appearance of my face. Even more than their questions and comments, I hated their advice. "Why don't you try putting __________ (insert any plant/food/liquid/medicine here) on your face?" I already tried everything, literally everything, and nothing was helping. Some people even started accusing me of having bad hygiene habits and not washing my face. And that somehow hurt the most, because I had no will to explain my daily morning and evening 20 minute face washing routines every time I heard comments like that.

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I became depressed, didn't want to go out of my house, even to the nearest shop. When I had to go out in public, I wore tons of makeup. I avoided my friends' birthdays for months because my acne were visible under the makeup and I thought it was the worst thing in the world. I didn't want to greet acquaintances and hear questions "What happened to your face?".

I didn't want to search for professional help of a dermatologist because I wouldn't admit to myself that this is a serious problem. Yes, whatever people tell you, having acne is a diagnosis. It is a health problem that needs to be treated and cured. It is your body signaling you that something isn't working right.

When I finally addressed my problem, the dermatologist gave me hormonal pills (OCP). When those same people heard I was starting to use pills for acne, they started assuring me that having acne isn't such a big problem, that I shouldn't take some risky pills because of it. That I am overreacting. That acne aren't even considered a medical problem, but an aesthetic concern. That no one even notices that on my face. You can never, ever please people. Sometimes you have to be your own support.

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Now I'm about 9-10 months on pills. My acne are completely gone, but scars are here to stay. One day in the early Summer, it was so hot outside that I decided I wouldn't wear makeup. Being able to go out in the public without the makeup for the first time in a year was truly terrifying, but also refreshing. I continued going out like that and realized nobody even looks at my scarred face. Nobody cares. Nobody stares.

And I came to peace with myself.

How I look is my own decision. I'm not obliged to be 'socially acceptable' beautiful. I'm not owing anything to anyone. No one should expect of me to look like they've imagined. It is my face, it is what I got and I'm doing with it as I please. If anybody doesn't like it, they can turn their head away.

There is not one person who has the right to make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.
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Love your skin, love your appearance, because now you are the youngest and the most beautiful you will ever be. Why hide yourself under the makeup? Because the society demands it? I spent all my high-school wearing makeup because all of the other girls wore it too, because I was ashamed of my youthful blush. Now I'm 24, my face has seen better days - but it was hidden behind a foundation. Now there is no way I will allow anyone tell me how I should look when I leave the house.

I wear my skin proudly. I wear my scars as they are, so that people see that I fought a battle and I won.

Don't be ashamed of who you are and what you survived. I like to think of them as battle scars. They are no different than other scars on my body - the one on my elbow I got as a kid when I fell on the road, or the one on my finger left after I cut myself on a shattered cup...

On other days I think of them as little stars on my cheeks. I don't mind living with a starry face.
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